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Maurice G. Logan

American
(1886–1977)

The Old Milk Ranch
1925

Oil on canvas
16.25 x 18.25 in. (41.275 x 46.355 cm)
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation
1985.105

In Maurice Logan’s The Old Milk Ranch, paint itself almost seems to be the subject. Colored shapes, not lines, build up the composition. This small painting creates a sense of heat and intensity through high-keyed oranges, reds, yellows, and grayed blues, with a punch of acid green. Logan chose his colors out of artistic necessity, not to reproduce nature, using hues favored by the Fauves to transform the humble subject matter of this California ranch. His confident brushstrokes and liberal use of pigment add to the impact, evoking a sense of immediacy.

Logan and the other members of the Society of Six, Northern California’s most advanced modernist painters, shared a love of thick pigment. They considered emotional truth to be more important than accurate depiction. Like his comrades, Logan had a preference for small canvases that were easy to handle outdoors, and he liked to finish a painting in one sitting. He and other Six members rejected studio work, preferring speed and direct action. They painted wet-in-wet, as Logan did here, applying color over and into other colors before the paint dried.

The Old Milk Ranch has appeared in major exhibitions of the Society of Six, including one of the original Oakland Art Gallery shows. It was included in the 1976 survey Painting and Sculpture in California: The Modern Era at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the 1989 exhibition California Colorists: Paintings by the Society of Six at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. This iconic work is part of the lineage of painterliness that distinguished art in Northern California.

Nancy Boas


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